FREE SCHOOL SUPPORTERS’ NEW BID
A FRESH bid has been launched to open a new secondary Jewish free school in order to ensure enough places for children in north-west London.
Barkai College and Kavanah College — the two groups whose plans for a free school were rejected last year by the Department for Education — have now joined forces, with the intention of submitting an application for a “New Jewish High School” next month.
The school would be modern Orthodox in ethos, while inclusive
“to all parts of the Jewish and wider community”, according to a statement issued by the groups.
But their plans are going ahead despite the preference of other organisations for expanding existing schools to cater for any increase in demand rather than found a new one. The new application is being led by Maurice Ashkenazi-Bakes, previously co-ordinator of Kavanah, and Eve Sacks, who chaired the Barkai team. Mr Ashkenazi-Bakes said “we have been able to create to create a bid that is representative of the Jewish community and that will suit the many hundreds of families who desire to give their children an outstanding secular and Jewish education.” Eve Sacks said “we now have a strong team of educators overseeing and backing our efforts”.
They say they will seek a “mainstream Orthodox rabbinic authority” to guide it. Whereas Kavanah had the support of the Chief Rabbi, Barkai remained independent.
A government source has suggested the two previous bids were rejected mainly because the authorities did not want to adjudicate which was better for the Jewish community.
But among the reasons both Kavanah and Barkai were given by the DfE was concern over the amount of time they planned to allocate to Hebrew and Jewish studies.
According to Partnerships for Jewish Schools, rising demand could see the need for as many as 135 extra places in Jewish secondary schools in future.
A spokesman for Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said his view “has always been that one free school application is much better than two — if and when there is a need for a new school.
“His stated preference remains for our existing schools to provide the additional places required. Now that existing schools are working to deliver the necessary places, we trust this will resolve the issue and it would also be the most responsible approach for the community to adopt.”